December 7, 1918
Well, the old gentleman is nineteen years old today -- this last year has certainly slipped by before I knew it, and the time will go quickly, I hope, til I'm discharged. I didn't mind staying in while the war lasted -- but now that it's over, I'd like to put on a stiff collar and a pair of straight trousers again. If I had it to do over again though, I'd enlist, for the last 4 months haven't been so bad.
Had I not passed the last listeners exam before I left Pelham, I would have been drafted to fill out the crew of the George Washington, the boat the president sailed on. One crew had already come from New York but they needed more -- and our barracks was sent. Would rather be here, though.
Was sick again yesterday -- in fact the skipper on the boat was too. It was rough and cold. I can't tell you how the fellows suffered, but we stayed out on deck all day because we were too sick to go below where the engine fumes were thick. Six hours on deck without warming made us so cold we could hardly walk when we got ashore. We asked to be brought in, for it was so rough we couldn't do any reading with the instruments -- but they said they had orders to keep us out til 4:30. We did come in at 3 because the ensign got sick, but as a result of the exposure, Rothrock, a fellow from Tennessee, went to the hospital with pneumonia. I hope they take heed and watch out for us more in the future.
We hear a rumor that we are to be rated earlier than the 21st, and I only hope it's true -- we must go out on the sub chasers until we get our ratings.
My two other exam papers were graded yesterday, and I made another 4.0 or perfect paper, and the other one was a 3.8 or 95, which is the best work made on theory in the division of about 50. They will catch up when we average up our readings, for some can "center" sound better than I can. Anyway the squad leader told me today I was sure of second, and if I keep my average above 3.7 I could be recommended for first. Second is equal to sergeant in Army so I'll be satisfied with it -- in fact would have been satisfied with 3rd class.
Am in town -- but must go back and stand another watch from 12 to 4 tonight. Then I'm off again til 4 o'clock Monday morning, when I stand another 4 hours, which will be my last watch while I'm here.
Don't worry about not sending me a box on my birthday, for I know you are having your hands full nursing. Hope your throat is better now. As soon as you get Donovan straightened out, take a rest and let Christmas take care of itself.
From your devoted son,
P.S. The reason I'm not going to buy a blanket is because I may get shipped south when I finish here. I cover with my pea coat and keep warm, so don't worry.